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Strolling of the Heifers has released the 2015 Locavore Index, which ranks the 50 states (and DC) in terms of their commitment to local foods. This is the fourth year the organization has produced the index. “The purpose of the Index is to stimulate efforts across the country to use more local food in homes, restaurants, schools and institutions,” said Orly Munzing, founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers.

eatlocal
Local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better, because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate, and therefore, loses fewer nutrients and incurs less spoilage. cdrin / Shutterstock.com

As part of their index this year, Strolling of the Heifers offers 10 reasons to increase the use of local foods, which, the nonprofit says, are better for consumers, better for growers and better for the environment.

Here are the 10 reasons Strolling of the Heifers says you should eat more local food:

  1. Supports local farms: Buying local food keeps local farms healthy and creates local jobs at farms and in local food processing and distribution systems.
  2. Boosts local economy: Food dollars spent at local farms and food producers stay in the local economy, creating more jobs at other local businesses.
  3. Less travel: Local food travels much less distance to market than typical fresh or processed grocery store foods, therefore using less fuel and generating fewer greenhouse gases.
  4. Less waste: Because of the shorter distribution chains for local foods, less food is wasted in distribution, warehousing and merchandising.
  5. More freshness: Local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better, because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate, and therefore, loses fewer nutrients and incurs less spoilage.
  6. New and better flavors: When you commit to buy more local food, you’ll discover interesting new foods, tasty new ways to prepare food and a new appreciation of the pleasure of each season’s foods.
  7. Good for the soil: Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the reliance on monoculture—single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.
  8. Attracts tourists: Local foods promote agritourism—farmers’ markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.
  9. Preserves open space: Buying local food helps local farms survive and thrive, keeping land from being redeveloped into suburban sprawl.
  10. Builds more connected communities: Local foods create more vibrant communities by connecting people with the farmers and food producers who bring them healthy local foods. As customers of CSAs and farmers markets have discovered, they are great places to meet and connect with friends as well as farmers.

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